From The Beginning

By Kate Riley February 12, 2010

A would like to send out a loud musical glittery puffy heart THANK YOU card with a giant balloon drop to everyone who participated in Tuesday’s survey.  Over 1,700 responses and climbing, wow !  It is so refreshing to hear what you have to say, especially about things I never even notice or think of.  I’m still absorbing all of your constructive input, and I can’t express in words how truly grateful I am to all of you who took the time to respond.  

First let me say that I still consider myself a complete amateur in this blog world and have incredible respect and admiration for those who are the real experts out there, who’ve been doing this for years and years.   They are the experts, and I bow to their skills and professionalism.   There are some bloggers out there that blow me away they are so awesome.   They inspire me greatly.   As for me, I’m still learning so much everyday, and I’m just incredibly thankful that anyone at all stops by to read and share with me.  

There were a few questions that kept coming up, so I thought it a good time to address them in a post.  And because it’s impossible for me to not have photos, please enjoy these pictures from the past that are completely irrelevant to what I’m writing.   Okay, here goes.  

cg chair Q: How did you get started blogging ? 

A: When I first started this whole thing on February 15, 2009, I had absolutely no idea where it would go.  I had stumbled across John and Sherry back in November of 2008 when I Googled how to do something, and This Young House, now Young House Love came up on my screen.  I was so intrigued and so charmed but this sweet couple who shared the same passion as me: remodeling houses and DIY projects. 

We had just survived our own huge remodel, and I simply couldn’t get enough of home improvement.  It’s a subject I never get tired of.  That led to a few other blogs and all of a sudden it was like a light shining down from the heavens.   I was overwhelmed by all the creativity out there.  My brain kept thinking, “There are others like me, who love paint and power tools !” 

Then it occurred to me one day to start a little blog of my own.  It felt very weird at first.  I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning.  But I wasn’t deterred.  I just wanted to talk about what I love like these other blogs were doing, so I signed up for a free Google account on Blogger.  ‘Centsational Girl’ was my Ebay handle from years ago, so I went with that.  It seemed to capture who I was. 

Then I sent my playroom remodel to John and Sherry at Young House Love.  They were enthusiastic, and decided to feature it in April of 2009.  Then I just kept plowing away, writing about things that I love, like fixing up old chairs, dressers, and spaces.  I tried my best to focus on quality projects and interesting posts with content rich tutorials.   

I started getting featured here and there, for example by my friend Linda at Restyled Home, Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick, Rhoda at Southern Hospitality, Rachel at One Pretty Thing, and the SITS girls.   THANK YOU LADIES !!!   My followers slowly began to grow.  For several unique and creative projects, I was featured on Apartment Therapy, and I even had a recent feature on Design Sponge.  I always sign up for my buddy Kimba’s DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land, and she’s been kind enough to mention me a few times.  All of this helped spread the word. 

    cg mirror 

Q:  How did you get so many followers in a year ? 

A:  I’ve never asked people to sign up as a follower as part of a giveaway, although plenty of blogs do and that is a very useful tool to increase your number of followers.    

Getting followers was very slow in the beginning.  For the first two hundred, I would write back and personally thank them for signing up.  Then it started to grow faster and faster and I couldn’t keep up with writing a personal note to everyone, although I believe that’s a really considerate thing to do.  I’ve noticed with every feature or mention on another blog, I tend to pick up more followers, but it really ebbs and flows. 

In my opinion, the best way to get more followers is to a) be social, and leave comments on other blogs and invite them to visit you and b) make your posts interesting, funny, or informative so new readers are intrigued by what you’re all about and want to stick around. 

cg scales Q: How do you find the time to blog, finish your projects, raise kids, and have a law practice ? 

It’s very tough.  There is no down time.  I’m on the go from sunup to sundown.  With all the balls I’m juggling, it’s true that something’s got to give, but I’m pretty good at multitasking.   My kids are in school in the morning, so that is when I respond to emails or shop for supplies.  I do most of my projects in the afternoon when my children are home with me.   

Lately, I’ve had to turn down legal cases because I just don’t have the time anymore.  There’s a little money trickling in now with the blog, but hub’s job is the one that pays the bills, and I’m on a tight budget. 

I drink a lot of coffee, I rarely watch TV, and I don’t sit down during the day.  I write my blog posts at night after the kids go to bed.  And I have a very supportive husband. 

But there are many days I fall short.  The laundry always piles up, and often I’m just so darn tired.  Then I just don’t post anything the next day. 

cg teal planter Have you had any design failures, or projects that turned out to be not worth the effort?

OMG Yes !!!  I have a whole file of projects that I consider “failures” that started out as a great idea and in the execution turned out to be complete and total disasters. 

Example:  Remember my cement planters from last summer ?  They were great.  Then I thought it might be cool to make one in the shape of a gallon of milk and paint it white so I used a plastic gallon of milk for the form. 


The handle kept falling apart, it weighed a ton and looked so dumb.  Those pictures ended up on the cutting room floor, as have several other projects.  But I like what Einstein said, “Any one who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” 

And you can thank me for now for sparing your eyes from the hideousness of my “failure” files.

cg dresser Q:  I really enjoy the rescued and revamped section, but I would like to see more creativity.  It seems lately like everything revamped is just painted white! It gets boring.

Well I love love love white paint, don’t we all ?   Just about everything looks good in it.  And y’all know how much I adore ‘Heirloom White’ !!!   But there is so much  that can be done with stain, fabric, molding, trim, and incredible color.

I have little room left in my house for furniture, but I can’t stop the refurbishing, so I’m going to start selling some of my pieces in a local shop this year. 

I will be using a lot of color and fresh design elements in these pieces and writing all about it.  I hope you’ll follow along. 



What do you think makes a blogger successful?

It all depends on how do you define success.  Is it a certain number of followers ?  Is it a certain number of sponsors or advertisers ?  Is it a certain number of comments ?  Page loads ?  A dollar amount rolling in every month?  If you’re blogging only for the money, I have no advice to offer because I didn’t get into this for the money.  It’s nice to make a little money now, but I really do this for fun and because I love interacting with creative people.  

To me, a successful blog is one where you never ever get tired of writing about what you love, whatever that is and regardless of the numbers.  For me, it’s fixing up bedraggled objects and freshening spaces with simple decorating tricks.  It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I go to bed.  

I heard a quote the other day and it sticks with me.  “Don’t judge your insides by other’s outsides.”   This is so very true.  You’ll make yourself miserable trying to keep up or catch up or compare yourself with someone or some other blog you’ve decided is ‘more successful’ than you.  If you’re not in this because you love what you write about, then you will surely burn out.   

There are lessons to be learned from successful bloggers like Ree and Katie and Dusty.  These are real, funny, talented gals who are unique personalities and who also stay true to themselves.  It’s like Judy Garland said, “Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else”.  Come what may. 

Get excited for next week’s Blog Anniversary everyone cause I’m kicking it off with some incredible giveaways, thanks to supportive friends and fantastic sponsors !

Happy happy Friday and have a great Valentine’s Weekend !


  1. Happy Valentines Day, Kate. :) I liked this post, especially the part about not comparing yourself to other bloggers. If I did that, I’d log off right this second and not log back on. You and I have been blogging about the same length of time, and I just last night reached 350 Followers. For ME, that’s really good…I don’t have a niche, and my blog is a big old random pile of posts. So I have to choose to remind myself to be grateful that people want to read what I write at all. ;) Your blog is one of the first ones I read each day, and there’s a reason for that. You are fun, funny, and sooooo creative. Keep up the good work, girlie!

  2. Great post Kate, It gives me hope for my blog and makes me want to write even more. I write about decorating most but I also love baking. I try to mix it up a bit. I think I just need to write about what I love and that includes my life. I am excited to try to write about more and not feel pressure to only do home decor. Thanks for all the insight. I can see why you are doing so well with your blog!

  3. Just love the simple, classic lines & how it’s hard for all of us to juggle family, home, work & still release our creativity. So glad we can support each other in this!

  4. Very insightful! I love the Judy Garland quote!

    I really like your advice, so won’t you come by my place and say hi? :)

  5. You should be really proud of all you’ve accomplished! Seriously an inspiration, I raise my latte to you :)

  6. Amazing what you’ve built in one year! I just found your blog via Young House Love and I adore your projects. I’m growing my own blog, so this post was a nice reminder that it takes time and you need to keep plugging away!

  7. Thanks for your answers, it’s interesting to see your blog from your perspective. I’m new at this blogging thing and I remember finding your blog because I was trying to figure out how to rearrange my bookcases a few months back. Through you I found lots of other great bloggers (like The Nester, Just a Girl, Shabby Nest, etc.) so thank you for that! I remember sending you the link to one of my projects a couple months ago and how thrilled I was when you wrote back! Thanks for sharing your projects and a little bit about your life with us.

  8. I really liked reading this post, Kate.

    Blogging has been on my mind a lot this week. Seeing everyone’s photos from BlissDom, and being a bit sad that I wasn’t able to be there, set the stage for a lot of soul-searching. It’s funny that it seems that most of us have found blogging to be much more than we ever thought it would be. Whether our blogs are big or small, they’ve been a way to connect with people who are now dear to us in some way.

    I’ve “followed” your blog for some time, but haven’t signed up as a Follower because I’m not very good at remembering to do that. Today, I’m signing up. You are consistently producing posts that are worth reading, and I intend to keep reading them. I’m also going to add you to my blogroll lists. I’m sure that 95% of my readers already know about you and your wonderful blog. But who knows? Maybe I’ll have the pleasure of sending a few readers your way.

    Thank you for the heart that your pour into this endeavor. You make a difference.

  9. I just visited your site for the first time. I LOVE it!!! You have inspired me to go for it! If I had a $1.00 for every idea I had but was to nervous to try I would be RICH!!! I can’t wait for yard sale to start up so i can get going. In my mind I already visited my parent’s attic and need to talk to them about letting me have a few things!!!

  10. Thanks for posting this Kate! I’m in the early followers stage, like you talked about, and I have to say, my story about why I got started is similar to yours… Remember when I googled “nailhead trim headboard” and came across your site? Yep! That’s how I started.

    I enjoy your posts, photography, and humor. Keep it up!


  11. Hi Kate,

    I so enjoyed this post and hearing about how you got started! I got started in a very similar way and I’m waaayyy back at the beginning of my blog journey. Keep up the great work!

    – e

  12. Thank you so much for this post. I just started my blog a couple of weeks ago and have struggled that last few days. I appreciate the inspiration to continue on. I have been reading your blog since last November and look forward to your post everyday!

  13. What an interesting post, loved reading these details of your journey! I too write my posts at night after the kids go to bed, during the day I’m too busy working and mulit-tasking with life!!
    Continued success with your wonderful blog! Janell

  14. Thank you, Kate, so interesting, and frankly, a bit of a relief to know your laundry can sometimes pile up too. You have achieved a remarkable success (however that’s measured) in a year and I hope you feel a very sweet pride. Happy anniversary!

  15. Very inspirational. Thank you for sharing your journey. I truly enjoy your corner of the blogosphere and I wish you continued success.

  16. I love your blog! I have been wanting to redo my livin room for sometime, and after seeing what great ideas you have, I just couldn’t stand what a depressing and thoughtless place that room is. Right now I’m in the process of painting it (seriously. all my furniture is covered in drop cloths and about 2/3 of it is done) and I’ve already started some decor projects and am on the lookout for a great bench to reupholster. So thank you! I never knew redecorating could be so fun, and I can’t wait to start on the next room.

  17. What a great post, I am new to blogging or at least to writing a blog. I just started in January and the one thing you said about what makes a blog successful is something I am going to hold onto. It is successful as long as you enjoy doing it. So true,I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy the researching and witing, who knew? fun new journey. Would love for you to visit so this is an official invitation. Kathysue

  18. Hi Kate. Thank you for sharing this post. Your blog was one of the first I started following when I decided to start my blog last year. I enjoy all of your posts, you are amazing and very talented.

  19. So great to hear more about you Kate and you have some wonderful blog tips. I hope we are all doing this for the love of art, design etc!

  20. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I’m new to following you & I am amazed by how much you accomplish with every post! You truly have to maximize your time to get the things you want. Heck, it took me a whole evening after work just to hang 4 curtains.

  21. Mornin’ Kate,You. Are. Simply. Amazing. I still don’t know how you do it all….. I would be worn to a nub….( hmmmm…. have you been getting shorter lately?) HA- seriously…. what a thrill to receive a reply from you yesterday…. especially inlight of these insights.

    Congrats again, on acheiving another outstanding “first” in your life.

  22. Thanks for sharing with us Kate.

    YHL is how I stumbled upon your blog, and now I’m a daily reader of CG!

  23. Thanks so much for answering all the questions. This is the first time I’ve left a comment, I’ve been a lurker for awhile! I think the true sign of success is sharing your knowledge with others!

  24. Thanks for sharing! Think I’m going to try my hand at painting the doors in our master bedroom like you did to your closet. Hope it turns out just as cute!

  25. This was really interesting and helpful. I have no illusions of becoming a famous blogger…in fact I’m still new enough that I’m just excited that people are reading at all. I did decide in the beginning to just be myself and to try to keep to the original plan of offering helpful tips, recipes, decorating that don’t require a small fortune and hours of time. Sometimes it does get tempting to try to polish the edges a bit, be a bit more professional…but, I realize that when I say that my dip looks like “the dog threw up” but tastes great…people respect that. Blogging is really fun, takes lots of time and has opened so many creative doors for me. Congrats on all your success and thanks for sharing your secrets!

  26. kate….i’m glad you received so much great feedback! it was fun to read your insight and your answers to the questions.

    i started blogging just over a year ago and its been a really fun process! :)

  27. Kate, first time leaving a comment on your blog but I’ve been following you for some time. I wish I had been able to be at the Blissdom conference as so many bloggers I know and/or admire were there, including you! My good friend Rhoda and I met just after I started blogging 3 years ago and since she lives near my son in B’ham, we’ve had the opportunity to meet and get to know each other….she is one of my favorite people!

    I have been a legal secretary for 20+ years but now just work 3 days a week for a sweet little attorney, which is such a change from the old ego-driven ones I used to work for.

    Keep up the great work on your blog and visit my blog if you get a chance.


  28. I loved this post. Wow, you have grown a lot in just a year. I have been following you for about 6 months or so and I love your redos. I am new to blogging (about 4 months) and I like your advice. Be true to who you are. I am not trying to make money or become famous, I am just blogging for me. I am doing it because I enjoy it.

  29. Hi Kate – Happy Blogiversary. It is so inspiring to hear your story and getting to know you a little bit better through this post. I am looking forward to your second year. Hope you have a Happy Valentines weekend with your family.
    My best- Diane

  30. Kate, terrific post and thanks for this honest glimpse into your world. Keep doing what you are doing which for me is inspiring me to give things a try. I hope you and yours have a “Centsational” Valentines Day!

  31. Thanks for answering some of our questions, Kate. It’s one of the things I love about your blog, your personal input. Congrats! Here’s to another enormously successful year.

  32. I’d love to read about some of your projects that turned out to be “failures” especially with pictures.

  33. Hello Kate; What a great post, I enjoyed all the Q&A’s…. I found out about blogging from a Magazine article,, from then on I was hooked…

    Happy Valentine’s Day


  34. Long time lurker here – I check in on your blog most days but am not an official ‘follower’ and you can bet there’s plenty more like me too! Keep up the good work.

  35. Oy!! Now I have to check out all of the links you included. How can I ever read all of these great blogs?????????

  36. Hi Kate,
    Just here to reiterate Jo’s comment a few posts back. I’m also a lurker and not an official “follower” but I visit your blog on a daily basis. I thoroughly enjoy my visits and just wanted to take a moment to say thanks for all the sharing you do. Keep up the great work. Happy V Day to everyone in Blog Land. TFS! Sheila

  37. Dearest Kate – I just fell in friend-love with you for this line: “To me, a successful blog is one where you never ever get tired of writing about what you love, whatever that is and regardless of the numbers.” Amen sister. A to the men. Love this post :)
    XO – Katie (who is still giggling over the thought of being a ‘successful blogger’…seriously I think my toes are blushing!)

  38. Hi thanks for stopping by my Fancy Friday post. Oh yes Chanel I have worn it for more years than I can remember . Next time try the whipped cream so much nicer than the lotion. I use the powder every day. I love it because it is also pink!! That sophisticate blush pink. Glad to meet another Chanel Lady!! Kathysue

  39. What an insightful post, Kate! I love your blog from the beginning, and I’m happy to see it grow in every sense. Your blog was a huge inspiration for me to start my own blog. Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us, and happy Valentine’s!

  40. What a great post so honest and sincere. I am fairly new to your blog and I love it. Health and happiness to you and yours!

  41. I would personally LOVE to see pictures from the ‘failure’ file! We’ve all had plenty of our own!

  42. nice post, I love what you said about being true to yourself

    oh and yeah I LOVE what you said about juggling the balls and the laundry, and and and….(you made another blogger feel real and normal with that)

    sometimes I have to wonder what all this blogging is about…I think for me, I have to keep *me and why I wanna blog as a priority otherwise I get caught up in the things you said

    nice post Kate, enjoyed my visit and that* is what it’s all about cheers sarahx

  43. Hi Kate. I like your message and it’s true, stay true to your passions and to who you are (and you’ll never know where it will take you). Congrats on the huge success (I, too, signed up to follow … I’ve been a little behind in doing that with many great blogs!) :) Happy V Day weekend!

  44. Thank you for visiting and for the comment! That means your tips really work, then!! :)

    D’you know, you are so good at breathing new life into things, that I am surprised you haven’t already come up with some great idea to make your pile of laudry look stylish!

    And Happy Valentine’s!

  45. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I also have a diy blog and it can be discouraging sometimes when things are moving slow. But it’s so nice to hear what your journey was like and that I should keep going and stick to it. Thank you!

  46. Thank you for taking the time to answer the FAQ’s so thoroughly.

    One more question from a faithful follower – ever had a twitter party? I’ve always wanted to attend one!

  47. Thank you for the information, I was wondering all of those things. I’m not surprised that your blog has done this well, I think it’s amazing. I’m so glad I found it!

  48. Aww, thank YOU! I just love your blog. I’ve done so many of your projects and gotten so many lovely idea from you! This was fabulous to read.

  49. Kate, I enjoy your blog and have been inspired numerous times. My kitchen valance is a duplicae of yours. Please, keep drinking the coffee and blogging about your fab make-overs!

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